An ornate reliquary box, covered in fine metalwork that twists the eye and causes headaches.
You find a dusty violin on a stand in the next room. Through the grime of the years, you can tell that it is of excellent make. Perhaps someone can put it to good use? An instrument is meant to be played, after all...
The sound was most troublesome. Long have I been prisoner to Kormack and his evil designs, and the torturous sounds my heart has been cursed to endure has left me cold inside. I endure and ignore. Cold to the pain and the suffering of poor souls around me. Their Fate forsworn as soon as they enter His lair. But this, this atrocity has pierced my now icebound heart and cracked deep into my very soul. The children... The mewling babes that know nothing of their future, nothing of the joys of life. Innocent of horrors of the world and the dread future it holds. How short that future is. I can not get the sound of the mewling infants from my mind, it is seared into memory as a brand on an animals flank forever to remain. Some have even laughed right up till the end and nothing is more damaging to ones sanity than a broken childs laugh.
Master Blacksmith Heaf Astes
Once upon a time this sword may have been a sight to behold, but no more. Rust and decay now tarnish the metal of this forgotten relic, and those who stumble upon it are more likely to toss it than use it.
The rain poured down on the city of Grathen in a relentless beat that would marvel the best of drummers. It beat down on the public buildings, with pedestrians streaming in front of, with eyes cast upwards and lips mumbling prayers to Rain Gods. It beat down on the Slums, where thieves were mumbling thanks to their gods for all these people looking up and not at their purses. And it beat down on Ariel Lorette, a girl of 13, escaping from horrors beyond the common person's imagination. Ariel Lorette, with rain streaming down her face and hiding her tears of pain and sorrow and, above all, victory. For Ariel had escaped them. Ariel was free.
"I take it ye've ne'er fought a Semblance. Nasty undead fiends they be. 'course, they don't look undead. They don't have gleamin' bones, or rottin' flesh. No, sir! The Semblance looks just like you or me. Except for when its tryin' ta get you. I take it ye've ne'er fought a Semblance. If you had, you'd be dead."
-Old Gerald, man in the pub
The Noble Expertise of Creating the Remaining Organism is a gentlemen's club. People who don't belong call it the Noble Expertise, or perhaps the Expertise, but the people in the club call themselves necromancers, and the club itself N.E.C.R.O.
Ah, you are awake now I see. Wondrous news. I realized that you have no idea what is transpiring so I will be blunt so you may understand it. It is rumored that you are one of the best jewelers and metalsmiths in the region and for that you are lucky enough to have been chosen to create an item that will change the world. And afterwards, you shall be set free. My word on it.
An unassuming sewing needle, five to six inches long. Certainly nothing out of the ordinary.
Watcher comes now. It comes to set me free
Of its curse of dark and emptiness and endless misery.
Those who turn from the light and find themselves entranced by the lure of necromantic power would heed well the tale of Ilken Lillett; A testament to the sacrifices which must be made to attain such power.
"I will give man his threescore and ten, and then give him more. Death himself will fall before me."
She was known as "Moon Child" by her friends as she only came out at night, and whilst they loved to play with her, those who did so for too long would soon have cause to regret it. He was her father and the town undertaker, with a secret much less savoury role as the town necromancer.
...And 'lo, the days of Bennu drew to a close, and he built himself a pyre from which to be reborn in cleansing fire. But trickery snared his form, blackening radiant feathers to twilight...
I watched in horror as the final pieces were infused together with dark magics granted to the mighty Kormak by Shivenhusk Himself. The head from Lord King Vyrkril was placed on a base of blacked bone and thrust into the cold burning fire. I swear I hear it scream in agony. Decnus Kormak smiled at his late king and when he pulled the chalice from the blue flame bare handed, he clutched it covetously. That alone made me afraid.
Damn 'ol thing it tis. Itches like nuthin I e'er felt. Stupid bugs, your the Poosker ye fool. Help me get rid o' these damnable things.
I hate to tell you this but you have what we liked to call, "Puces Barbe Morts", or undead beard fleas. And the only way to be rid of them is to cut off your beard and then burn the hair.
No! Just kill me it's less painful that way.
Tis but a scratch, send the guards and make sure they capture that joke of an assassin
He stood before me, a freankenstien of a man beast that towered twenty feet tall or more. Its rigor colored flesh stunk of eons of decay both sickly sweet and of putrescence beyond what the mortal mind could fathom. I tried to gag it from my throat but my stomach refused to relieve its contents and for that made me more uneasy.
Former Cult Leader who outlived his usefulness
With a huge number of sacrificial victims, another realm long ago secretly bound a Prince of the land spirits, Iorstonn by name, thus ensuring the fertility, and improving the magical defences, of their realm. But binding that Prince to one spot has disrupted the weather and magical patterns (ley lines?) over half the continent. Things have become bad enough that a coalition has been formed to rectify the situation, once divinations have established the cause.
Your party is one of the teams assembled to do the rectification: find the binding object and steal it ("so that we can destroy it here in our realm, of course"...*) or destroy it over there. Presumably the Prince will be grateful to his rescuers and angry at the binders, but with a greater spirit like Iorstonn one can never be sure: such beings are "tricksy".
* Of course, the rulers of our realm might want to control Iorstonn for their own ends...